Hundreds of families from Massachusetts plan to make their way to Connecticut Thursday, getting ready to march outside of a drug manufacturer that they say has contributed to the deaths of their children.
The organization leading the march at Purdue Pharma in Stamford is called Team Sharing. It is a support group for those who have lost loved ones to addiction.
Kay Scarpone is on the board of directors and is heading to the march with her husband. They lost their son Joseph Scarpone, a marine who lived in Methuen, to addiction one month shy of his 26th birthday. They are bringing a poster with his picture on it to the march.
“We just feel it’s time,” Scarpone said. “They need to see the children that have died of overdoses. They need to see the faces of the parents who are going through this.”
Rhonda Lotti was making the same journey to Stamford from Watertown. Her daughter Mariah died of an overdose when she was just 19.
“They started selling these drugs to doctors saying it was safe and non-addictive and that you could give it to everybody,” Lotti said. “Purdue knew that wasn’t the case and they lied.”
Deceptive marketing is the center of a lawsuit recently filed by Massachusetts, claiming Purdue peddled falsehoods and made profits at the cost of nearly 700 lives in the last decade. President Donald Trump said Thursday he is also looking into legal action at the federal level.
A spokesperson for Purdue said they share the protestors’ concerns. The company’s statement said in part, “Purdue is committed to working collaboratively with those affected by this public health crisis on meaningful solutions to help them stem the tide of opioid-related overdose deaths.”
Many who are attending the protest calling for the company to contribute their profits to recovery resources and awareness education.
“But we want more than that,” Maureen Cavanaugh said, who is attending the march and founded Magnolia New Beginnings after her daughter’s struggles with substance abuse. “Money won’t bring these children back. We want change and accountability.”
The march is happening at 9 a.m. outside Purdue Pharma headquarters. Team Sharing also plans to have several events locally to mark overdose awareness day at the end of the month.